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Service and Selflessness: The Story of a Mill Creek Veteran and His Honor Flight




July 13, 2022
It all started with an email from the senior leadership of Foundations Health Solutions which urged Activity Directors to get creative for Veteran’s Day. From that email, Stasia Ulmer, the Activity Director at Mill Creek Nursing and Rehabilitation got to work!

First, on a snowy frigid winter night, Stasia waited hours outside the Historical Center to get one of our Veteran’s pictures on a banner that has flown for the past 2 years in the spring and summer in downtown Galion, Ohio. Stasia knew that Tony Schroeder served his country in the frigid temperatures in Vietnam, so doing the same to get his picture on the banner was the least she could do to return the favor.

She also submitted an application to send him on an Honor Flight to our nation’s capital. He, along with other Veterans, flew out of Columbus to Washington DC to visit landmarks and cemeteries on April 14, 2022.

A lot of work goes into getting Veterans signed up for the Honor Flight. It began with an application, telephone calls, letters, and getting a proper ID. Stasia was proud to do this work in her free time in order to honor Tony. On the Sunday before the flight, he received a polo shirt and began to get super excited. This was really going to happen!

The flight was amazing, according to Tony. He said he would go back again in a heartbeat if he was allowed. Tony was surrounded by guardians helping out and was greeted with welcome home banners as he came back to the airport. It was a beautiful act of service for a man that risked his life to serve  country.

This story is about Tony Schroeder, and it’s definitely a story about the desire we share at Foundations to honor our Veterans, but its also a story of Stasia Ulmer, our 60 year old Activities Director who embodies that same type of selflessness and servanthood that our many Veterans, like Tony, have shown to all of us.

I remember when Covid hit Mill Creek in October of 2020. Stasia was so committed to her residents that she worked all day and night to help our many residents who became positive with Covid. She helped us move each resident, and their belongings, and showed each person the love they deserve. That night, I literally had to beg her to leave at 2am eventually because she had been there 18 hours straight, in the midst of Covid, in the midst of residents and staff being sick, and in the midst of some residents passing away. In fact, one of those residents who passed was Tony’s wife. Stasia worked around the clock to make sure each resident was treated like they were her own family.

Stasia, like Tony, believes in putting others before herself. This is a value she honors due to her allegiance to her country, and her deep commitment to her Catholic faith. Stasia served her residents during the Covid outbreaks just like she served her residents during the fire at Mill Creek in April that led to us safely evacuating all 55 residents. For Stasia, like Tony, serving others isn’t a career; it’s a calling.

On Sunday July 10th 2022, Tony Schroeder passed away. We learned this from Stasia, who has been volunteering each day at the different nursing homes where our residents are temporarily placed while we look forward to reopening. You see, for Stasia, her service isn’t on hold because Mill Creek is temporarily closed. Her mission is her residents, and that didn’t stop after the fire.

Just like with our Veterans, we at Mill Creek are so thankful for the examples we have like Stasia Ulmer and Tony Schroeder. Because when all is said and done, it is selfless heroes like these two that provide us with a sense of security, and serve as a model for the life of honor and integrity that we all strive to live.

So this is a story. A story of servanthood and selflessness. And a story of how a simple Sunday email can lead to an Honor Flight for one of our great veterans just month before he passes away. Rest in Peace, Tony. And thank you for your service!

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